Ecotopia is sometimes used as a descriptor of a certain type of environmentalism. Ecotopians hold a more technology-based philosophy than many environmentalists. They believe, in short, that humans need to find a way to live in balance with the environment, and that advanced technology a good way to do that. While this is consistent with Ernest Callenbach's book Ecotopia, (described above), the original book did not harp so much on scientific progress, although it did include some progressive technological ideas.

Callenbach wrote about the directed cultural evolution, as humans consciously made drastic changes in their behavior to better live in the ecosystems that Earth provides. He believed that American consumerism and materialism was out of hand, but he did not believe that we had to give up modern products; we simply had to make better choices about what we use and how we use it. For example, while commuting is bad for the environment, Callenbach does not recommend going back to the land and farming all your own food -- instead he imagines a world of electric mass transit, videoconferencing, and shorter workweeks.

Callenbach also saw dramatic social change as an important part of the ecotopia ideal, wanting smaller governments, less/smaller corporations, and general libertarianism in our social life. Modern ecotopians are generally a little more positive about the possibilities of using the current system to achieve the necessary ends. On the other hand, they are all the more likely to focus on smart grids, mass transport, and tidal power.

Ecotopians are not a homogeneous group, and many people who might be called ecotopians don't even know the word. However, ecotopia has been taken in by the science fiction community as a specific sub-genre. 'Ecotopian fiction' refers to stories that include a strong element of ecological consideration; there are often strong negative themes of extinction and recent dystopias as the Earth went through through a ecological collapse. Ecotopians with a SF background are likely to include in their vision for the future advanced biotechnology, computer technology, and perhaps nanotechnology and space flight (because any vision of the future should involve spaceflight).

The geological area referred to ecotopia in the original book is somewhat related to the proposed country of Cascadia.